Dawn News

Can you break this ‘spell’?

KARACHI, Oct 3: Thunderous applause erupted after each correctly spelt word while a complete silence followed an incorrect spelling as the words got more difficult with each passing round at the 8th Dawn in Education Spelling Bee-2012.

The Karachi leg of the national competition concluded at the Arts Council of Pakistan here on Wednesday.

The clock hanging above the stage started ticking as soon as a word was pronounced for the contestants to spell out. The contestants were allowed to ask the moderator to repeat the words, ask for definitions and even use the words in sentences if the need for that arose before supplying the letters that they thought spelt out the words.

Each contestant had 40 seconds for to spell a word with the bell ringing at 15 seconds. The confident ones waited for the moderator finish but some who were eager replied quickly and were later sorry that they did. For instance, ‘cogitate’, meaning ‘to think carefully or ponder’ was spelt out incorrectly by a young man in the 12 to 14 years group when he decided to quickly get on with it without giving it a ‘careful thought’.

From the rounds where anyone in a three-member team could give the spellings, it got to the elimination rounds where only the person asked could provide answers. Pulses raced, legs shook and tongues stuttered as simple words such as ‘cohere’ ‘turmeric’ and ‘diminutive’ were spelt incorrectly. Ironically, the bigger and more difficult words were spelt correctly.

The Spelling Bee, organised by the Dawn Media Group, is now in its eighth year and is being held in collaboration with the US embassy in Islamabad. The judges are from Oxford University Press.

Speaking on the last day of the Karachi leg of the competition, US Consul General Michael Dodman said that he was glad that no one had asked him to spell out any words. “The most interesting competition going on right now is not the T20 cricket in Sri Lanka but the Spelling Bee right here,” he remarked. “The US consulate is glad to be sponsoring the event since we want to promote education, particularly English teaching, by working with students,” he added.

Dawn Media Group’s director circulation Niloufer Patel thanked all their partners in education, especially the US consulate, for helping them move the competition to small cities as well.

The current edition of the competition began on Sept 16 with the participation of 720 schools from all over Pakistan. Almost 6,500 children are competing in age groups of nine to 11 years, 12 to 14 years and 15 to 17 years. The regional championship in Karachi had 24 teams of three children from each age group after the preliminary rounds among the schools of Hyderabad, Sukkur and Karachi districts.

The three young winners in each age group from Karachi can now look forward to the nationals to be staged in Islamabad. So no time to relax kids! Get your spell books, oops … your dictionaries out and get cracking at learning those spellings.

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